The upsides of downsizing

Downsizing isn't just the name of a movie starring Matt Damon - it's a hot topic that comes up frequently in conversation. Whether you consider yourself a senior, an empty nester or just a person whose needs and lifestyle have changed, there comes a time when most of us will want to sell our house and move into something a little more manageable. Most people decide to downsize due to a change in family size, physical mobility or financial goals, but many just crave a fresh start or desire a new lifestyle involving downtown living, outdoor recreation or resort-style amenities.

The word downsizing implies that we are moving from a larger home to a smaller one, and this is generally the case. A common complaint by empty nesters is that there is "too much space" when the kids go to college or move out. I find that downsizers aren't really interested in reducing their space, but they do want to re-organize their space and upgrade their lifestyle. In the United States, the average house is 2,436 square feet, but this statistic has no bearing on the size of home that's right for you. The size of your new home will depend on how you envision using and sharing your space. Although there are some fans of the tiny house movement, most Michiganders would say a 400-square-foot home pushes "simplicity" to such an extreme that it is just not practical.

The quest for a new home can be an exciting and rewarding journey and there are several options available for seniors such as condos, lofts, ranches and cape cods. Working with a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) can help you uncover those gems that you may not have known of otherwise. For example, a new construction condo that backs up to a beautiful golf course or a chic downtown loft within walking distance to shops, restaurants, farmers markets, movie theaters and music venues.

Downsizers are not all senior citizens. The average retirement age in the United States is 62, which is still young. I like to call people in their 60s "Active Adults," those in their 70s "Seniors," and those in their 80s+ "Elders." Regardless of your age, your downsizing journey needs to be personalized to your individual wants, needs, preferences and aspirations. Keep a positive attitude and remember, downsizing your home doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your quality of living. In fact, you may find that downsizing your home actually increases your overall quality of life.

Here are 4 upsides to downsizing your home.

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Splurge on luxury features

A smaller space shouldn't mean you have to skimp on style. A smaller home often means a lower mortgage payment, so why not take that extra money and invest in the interior you always wanted?

Install luxurious tile flooring, backsplashes, ornate crown mouldings, custom millwork, home theatres, heated floors and more. Get creative and build vision boards online at social design sites like Houzz and Pinterest. Add pizzazz to your interior by adding unique and fun pieces of furniture to brighten up a smaller living room.

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Enjoy better views

Another way to enhance your living area is to invest in the outdoors. Have you always dreamed of a lakefront home but it never made financial sense? Perhaps downsizing will improve your financial picture and allow for some waterfront options. One of my clients with a passion for fishing submitted an offer on a $130,000 condominium in Novi with Walled Lake access where homeowners share a beachfront park; he envisioned dropping his kayak in the lake for a morning paddle and fishing with his grandkids when they came to visit him.

You can also hire a landscaping company to install water features, hardscapes and beautiful plantings at a non-waterfront property. Just be prepared to maintain your outdoor oasis, or hire it out, so you can devote yourself to the new activities or travel that made you want to downsize in the first place.

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Less maintenance and upkeep

Downsizing your home means there are fewer rooms to furnish, easier cleaning routines, lower monthly payments and decreased energy bills. If you purchase a condo, you can find freedom from many burdensome outdoor chores since there are typically homeowner association fees that cover exterior maintenance, snow shoveling and lawn care.

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Free up your lifestyle for traveling

You may not have considered it before, but your house requires a lot of maintenance that can tie you down and keep you in town. If you move to a condo community, it will free you up so you can travel. If you have a travel bug, jump onto the Airbnb bandwagon and explore new cities and countries.

Ultimately your plan will be a reflection of your desired lifestyle. If you are contemplating downsizing, my advice is to think about who you want to spend time with and how you want to spend your time. This inner work will help you navigate your downsizing journey and find your ideal home. Downsizing is the perfect time to embark on a new chapter. Onward!

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Tracy Wick, SRES, MUP is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist in Michigan with over 25 years of experience as a real estate consultant and client advocate. Tracy is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams and she can help guide you through your new home search ensuring that your most important transition is the right one for you. Find more articles on buying, selling, elder transition and estate settlement at TracyWick.com or contact her directly at 248-912-7407 or twick@kw.com

Published: Wed, Aug 07, 2019

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